Re: Saving the ethnosphere

From: Trupeljak Ozren (
Date: Wed May 01 2002 - 10:03:13 BST

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    From: Trupeljak Ozren <>
    Subject: Re: Saving the ethnosphere
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    --- Grant Callaghan <> wrote:
    > In my opinion, no one is destroying these languages and cultures.
    > They are
    > dying from lack of use.

    So this "lack of use" is purely accidental all across the board? There
    is no underlying phenomena that causes such an event? IMO the original
    article points out rather well what are the root causes.

    > Very few of the Indians left in America can
    > speak
    > the languages of their ancestors because the culture they now live in
    > requires them to speak English in order to survive. This was not
    > some planned extinction.

    First, no one claimed that this mass culture extinction is planned.
    Second, even if it was, it doesn't matter and doesn't change the fact
    that this phenomena is *not* usual. (And specificaly in the case of
    Native Americans, the extinction of their native cultures *was*

    > The people whose ancestors spoke Choctaw and
    > Chickasaw
    > are still alive and functioning in our society. An Oklahoma Governor
    > was a
    > Chickasaw. But the culture that their language functioned in no
    > longer
    > exists because a new one came along that gives them better tools with
    > which
    > to survive in a modern world. The Chickasaw would not have become
    > Governor
    > if he had not been able to appeal to the large number of English
    > speakers
    > who inhabit his state. At the time Oklahoma became a state, the
    > Chickasaw
    > Nation contained 20,000 Chickasaws and over 100,000 white and negro
    > settlers. The Chickasaw culture would only have appealed to about
    > 1/5 of the population.

    Of course, there is no mention in your argument of all the economic,
    political and military pressures at all. This is not a very good way to
    analise a situation....

    > The Chickasaw language was ill suited to talk about railroads and
    > states
    > rights and turning an Indian nation into a state of the United
    > States. It
    > was quite good for talking about plants and animals and herbal
    > remedies.

    Note that Chickasaw very probably did not *want* to talk about
    railroads, states rights, etc, nor did consider them to be important
    concepts, until they were forced to do so (through one or the other of
    mechanisms for cultural assimilation at work).

    > But those plants and animals have mostly been replaced by modern farm

    > animals and the herbal remedies have been replaced by modern
    > medecine. The
    > Chickasaw language leaves them with little vocabulary that applies to
    > the
    > world they now live in. English, on the other hand, is the language
    > of that world.

    You are describing a process that we are all (supposedly) familiar
    with. The question was not about the specifics of the process, but
    about whether such processes are "good" or "bad" on the abstract level
    of cultural evolution and biological analogies.

    > The Chickasaws speak English because that's the language they need in
    > order
    > to function and do well in America today. Most of them are doing
    > well. But
    > they are doing it as Americans rather than as Chickasaws.
    > Grant

    Exactly. They are Americans now, instead of being a Chickasaws. A
    complete culture has been lost, and replaced with another. If this was
    the only case in the U.S., no big problem. But this happened to a few
    hundred other Native cultures in U.S., and from a certain point of view
    it is actually quite terrible.

    There are very few men - and they are exceptions - who are able to think and feel beyond the present moment.

    Carl von Clausewitz

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